Friday, January 06, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville ladies roll early

By RAY BENTON Leader sports editor

The Lady Titan basketball team got its opponent put away early and spent the second half experimenting in a 47-20 victory over J.A. Fair on Tuesday.

Jacksonville’s defense held the Lady War Eagles scoreless for more than seven minutes, and the offense was unselfish and precise.

“We definitely came out and did what we wanted to do early,” said Jacksonville coach Marian Kursh. “I thought we rebounded really well. We wanted to be able work on some things we’re trying to do in the second half, and we were able to do that because of how we played early.”

Jacksonville (9-9), 1-0) had forced more turnovers in the first three minutes than it had given up shot attempts. Fair coach Shirley Goodnight called timeout with 4:54 left in the opening quarter. Jacksonville led 8-0 on 4 for 4 shooting, and all four shots were the result of assists by Dayzya Jordan and Alexis James.

The Lady Titans came out of that break in a 2-3 zone instead of their usual man defense, but Fair still could not score. After a lengthy possession, Jacksonville freshman Shy Christopher took advantage of a lazy pass to flash into the passing lane for a steal and layup that made it 10-0 with 4:08 to go in the quarter.

Fair (2-10, 0-1) missed a long shot attempt on the ensuing possession, and Jacksonville’s DeShundria Shockley made the Lady Titans’ sixth-straight basket with 3:24 on the clock.

As well as Jacksonville shot in the first half of the quarter, the next two minutes saw six-straight misses by the Lady Titans. After the momentary struggles, the Lady Titans made two more shots for a 16-0 lead before Fair finally scored with 45 seconds remaining in the period. Forward India Atkins made a running baseline floater before Jacksonville scored for an 18-2 by the start of the second period.

The second quarter was more of the same, but from different players. Arian Phillips, Sharonda Perry, Shatorria Briggs and Taylor Toombs came off the bench to help the Lady Titans outscore Fair 19-3 in the second quarter and take a 37-5 lead into halftime.

Jacksonville only outscored Fair 6-4 in the third quarter, but the 43-9 lead was still enough to run the clock continuously in the final frame.

Jacksonville has been without several key players, some since early December and some since the season began. Two of them should return soon. Tarnesha Womack, the team’s only true post player, has been cleared after suffering a broken arm on Nov. 18 against Mills. Allison Seats expects to be cleared next week.

“Both of those players should help us,” said Kursh. “Womack makes a big difference because she’s a post player. Seats has been ready to go, but her doctor went on vacation. So we just have to wait until its official. She’s a very smart player and she’s going to contribute.”

All nine players that saw the floor scored for Jacksonville. Christopher led the way with 17 points. Shockley and Martina Knight scored six each. Atkins scored 10 for Fair while Keyonna Winston had eight and Jada Evans rounded out the Eagles’ scoring with two points.